Ray Lamontagne "Supernova"

Ray Lamontagne and Dan Auerbach team up for 10 songs inspired by music of 1960s

The myth of Ray Lamontagne begins with a factory worker waking to his clock radio playing Stephen Stills. The laborer rises from his bed and decides on the spot to become a musician. There is probably an element of truth to this tale, especially being that his music sounds like it emanates from the laid back folk/rock of the 1970s – until now. Now we’ve moved back to the psychedelic swirl, bossa nova rhythms and pop perfection of the 1960s.

Supernova opens with “Lavendar” a track that artfully mixes psychedelic production with an underlay of twanging country-western guitar. Lamontange’s vocals are overdubbed and backed by multitudes of backing vocals contributed by Richard Swift. The sound is reminiscent of the work Swift has created for the Shins. Lamontagne uses his voice in ways that create new textures, shifting from track to track, producing affectations that match the mood and roots of each song. “Airwaves,” a mellow track finds him singing in a whispery style, using colloquialisms and non- verbal sounds.

Lamontagne says he spent time listening to Genesis, early Pink Floyd, The Troggs, The Kinks, even early Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe for musical inspiration. Certainly this album finds him stretching melodically and changing the tempo throughout the album. “She’s The One” is dominated by driving guitar and bass,and muscular drumming. From there the pace is down shifted to the moody and ominous “Pick Up the Gun” a song about romantic rejection. “Julia” is a pop-rock number that could have escaped from 1968 AM radio. “No Other Way” is a dreamy  Bossa Nova inspired love ballad. “Ojai” is a Van Morrison-esque love song featuring tinny piano, acoustic guitar, and pedal steel. “Smashing” puts you in mind of Donovan’s finest offerings.

Supernova is Ray Lamontagne most accessible album in terms of appealing to a broader audience thanks to its many musical reference points. Dan Auerbach’s production is full of smart details gleaned from a decade’s worth of examples.  

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)